"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." ~Shakespeare, JULIUS CAESAR
Spending my workdays talking about literature in the exclusive company of teenaged boys, I am always looking for new titles that will engage even the most reluctant adolescent reader and woo them with beguiling characters and narrative drive. That THE FAULT IN OUR STARS has both and also opens the opportunity to rattle on about Shakespeare and T.S. Eliot and the book that changed your life makes it an undeniable fit for my @TeenBoyLitCrit classroom.
Rife with sarcasm and dark humour that is essential to the way teens communicate with each other, Green's novel reminds me of David Mitchell's brilliant coming of age story BLACK SWAN GREEN, a similar tale involving believable dialogue and totally engrossing characters.
All I will tell you about what happens in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is that Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters meet in a Cancer Support Group in "the basement of a stone-walled Episcopal church" where they "all sat in a circle right in the middle of the cross...where the heart of Jesus would have been" and their leader Patrick tells them over and over again how "cancer took both of his nuts but spared what only the most generous soul would call his life." Each week all of the current cancer survivors follow his testimony with what 17-year-old Hazel calls "the circle jerk of support: everyone talking about fighting and battling and winning and shrinking and scanning." At his inaugural meeting August tells Hazel that she looks just like Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta and if that isn't an open sesame for a nod to Mae West's come up and see me some time, I don't know what is.
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is mordantly funny, tender and true. Pick it up. Go along for the journey that will leave you feeling moved and lucky to spend your reading hours in the company of such real characters.
Today I'm giving a copy to friends whose own fiery-spirited daughter Cassie died from cancer in her teens. They will see so much of her in Hazel Grace and Augustus. John Green has such a gift.